Thunder In The Pocono Mountains On Super Saturday Of Stakes; State-Breds Battle; Speed-Bound Gold Cup & Saucer

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

August 18th, 2016

Our TwinSpires harness betting season for 2016 officially begins this week with our spin-off blog, The Breeders Crown Countdown (BCC), complementing our main blog. Each week until the eliminations of the championship season, we will choose specific races from specific divisions and feature them separately in the BCC blog. These will be top events and semi-important events that will offer great wagering opportunity while featuring stars of the various divisions. The BCC runs through the cooperation of the Hambletonian Society and TwinSpires.

This week, the BCC handles the Valley Forge events at Pocono Downs on Aug. 20. That program’s other sparkling events are featured here, as well as we chase more great paying sires stakes races on Aug. 19 at Saratoga and the Meadows.

We also offer full coverage of the Charlottestown Drivers Park’s Gold Cup & Saucer on Aug. 20. The trials were wild so the final may be a kick in the pools, so to speak.

As well, our TwinSpires horses-to-watch list (H2W) continues to offer participants in all pools, refreshed weekly with outside contenders you don’t find from any other handicapping source. Week after week the H2W features valued win, place, show and exotics’ payoffs so take these horses seriously when constructing your wagers.


The Meadows presents soph-filly trotters in three divisions of Pennsylvania Sires Stakes on Friday, Aug. 19. Each split is worth $53,000-plus.

In round one, although Miss Tezsla comes off a great win at the Meadowlands two weeks back, Womans Will finds a good spot and could be a great price considering the aforementioned and the 9-for-9-winning Goodtogo Hanover who may be in over her head.

In round two, Haughty takes a second chance on the H2W list but as a feature we return to Pink Pistol, who was 22-1 in a Duenna split but can be forgiven for losing there.

Round three may be the spot Spicedbourbongirl has been awaiting. She won’t be the choice—that spot will go to Broadway Donna, who has disappointed many considering the expectations for her soph season.

At Saratoga the same night, two $89,000-plus New York Sires Stakes splits for soph-filly trotters go to post. Seven gals hit the track in split one and only Trond Smesdshammer’s Fad Finance has been on the Hambletonian Trail. However, Swinging Royalty could go under the wagering wire here and take this at a price.

The second split also offers seven gals, led, most likely, by Ake Svanstedt’s Non Stick. An outside contender that can turn over a winning mile, however, is Earn Your Wings. If the public is on her, she may still deliver a decent price.


This Saturday, Aug. 20, Pocono Downs presents a program adorned with pacing and trotting stars, many fresh from the Meadowlands Hambletonian card two weeks ago. On the card for the five-eights mile track in the Pennsylvania mountains will be a slew of stakes with consolation spin offs and some other Invitational contests. Here is our unique analysis for each of the feature races in the order they will be presented.

The $50,000 Hanover Shoe Farms Mare Invitational starts the stakes parade with nine older pacing femmes. No doubt the crowd will see the standout win record of Medusa (11 for 24 wins, 20 for 24 in-the-moneys), giving her action. Sell A Bit N’s highest earnings are eye-catching, mostly due to the “Levy” series and “grand-ole-dame” Anndrovette has enough fans to get decent support. However, recently, Jimmy Takter’s Katie Said has made some noise and it is highly possible she will race with odds that don’t equal her chances. She has post 8, which may further raise her worth, which was good enough to get third in the Lady Liberty against Lady Shadow, who is the best of this division. Also good for the top three is Devil Child, who won off of her tough “Liberty” trip.

The second Colonial Consolation is next, offering $100,000 to nine soph-colt trotters. Mavens Way comes from the hot Hambletonian Final field and from one elim comes Reigning Moni. These two need the most attention coming from miles with the division’s best. Mavens Way may get favorite status and will deserve it because he could be the utter best of them all, at least under these circumstances. Takter’s Reigning Moni didn’t make the Hambo final field but could wind up the exacta element needed for a stronger pay out.

The Battle of the Brandywine Consolation two is next, with $100,000 on the line for nine glamour-boy pacers. These are not in the top tier of the division’s performers so the crowd may focus on the well-known trainers. Ron Burke has a pair but neither Sossy’s King Kong nor Spider Man Hanover have lived up to their marquee names. Takter’s Cruise Patrol has not been very competitive in 10 starts with only two wins and no other spots collecting checks. This, then, turns out to be a great spot for Tom Fanning’s Cobra Joe, who has earned best in the field and won twice as many as any other in the field. “Joe” may go off with a two-digit price to offer, even with a fan-favorite driver.

The $50,000 Sebastian K Invitational sends nine top-earning older trotting horses for a three-turn spin. Three of these horses appear as second-timers in this week’s H2W list (below). JL Cruze was our choice in the John Cashman Memorial Trot on Hambo day, which also included Homicide Hunter (he was second in his next race). Wings Of Royalty was our choice in the Vincennes, also on Hambo day. This Invite is a lethal mixture of those two Hambo-day features and a tough bunch to handicap. “Wings” should be a well-priced entry here, since Shake It Cerry gets the inside 9 hole off of a stunning second and Rose Run Parker takes money off of a seven-for-13 win tab. But JL Cruze shoots out of the 8 slot and should be penalized in the betting for it, leaving us with odds better than his 4-1 loss at the Meadowlands. Wings is a great exotic partner.

The second Colonial Consolation is worth $200,000 and it presents more characters from the Hambo dramas. Certainly, Hollywood Highway, Brooklyn Hill, Iron Mine Bucky and Lagerfeld are the obvious of the “classic cult.” However, the other one, Dominion Beach, is the most dangerous, since he broke and never had a chance to get into the final. Not that he would have been a major foe in the big event but his miscue did not allow us to evaluate him as we can the others from their efforts. Nancy Johansson’s colt has been erratic but that doesn’t mean he won’t put in a great mile and most likely at huge odds. “Mike” and Lagerfeld made the final but were nowhere near the quality of the first few finishers. Dominion Beach is worth the shot.

The $200,000 Battle of the Brandywine Consolation one sends nine soph-colt pacers across the Pocono surface and it’s a strange lot to those who have followed the division thus far this season. Not one Burke of Takter horse is here and they all of their earnings are within a few-thousands range. What also makes it a mighty tight contest is that Ideal Rocky, the morning-line choice, has yet to win a race at three. One in the field, Do Over Hanover, could have taken his second shot on the H2W list but we are putting him as the choice here with an exotic-play partner, JJ Flynn. Chris Ryder’s “Flynn” has shown enough capability in 15 starts to be in the mix here. The crowd may strike harder on Tony Alagna’s Dr J Hanover, which gives our two potent pay offs in any combination.

Next, the $50,000 P.H.H.A. Invitational presents some better known pacers, though these are the older ilk. The crowd is bound to make Dealt A Winner the top choice from his U.S. Pacing Championship ride, getting a piece of the action against the elder stars. Tough from post 9 will be Rockeyed Optimist, 11 wins for 17 tries and getting the only second-tier position. Right in front of him, Mach It So will soar early and try to command the pace. There is no way to toss out Bit Of A Legend N, either. Those three are inherently better than “Dealt” and the morning-line favorite, Mel Mara, should not have that status. We will take “Optimist” and “Mach” who should both get easy, speedy trips while the others work too hard to make up ground as late as they may have to do to win.


The first main feature is next, featuring glamour-boy trotters from the Hambo, including its winner, Marion Maurader. The $500,000 mile also features Southwind Frank, who barely lost the Hambletonian Final. The added turn and the shortened stretch here make a world of difference. An unchallenged trip could give the advantage to an early leader. Dayson, who did not race in the Hambo final, gets post 1 and Burke’s speedy trotter will be out to command this group. Burke’s Southwind Frank may overcome him and control the fractions from there and don’t count Bar Hopping out to also fight for the front. All of this gives Marion Marauder a shot if those colts take their duel into the third turn. As well, Waitlifter K and Sutton (third in the H-final) will wish for a similar scenario.

But Southwind Frank should not be dismissed as speed that will fail or that he cannot get a good spot, save ground and shoot up the rail as he did when he almost beat “Marion” in the last steps of the classic. The Colonial Trot may reissue the division’s top status to “Frank” in a scenario that repeats his earlier races, when he dominated the group. As a second or even third choice (Bar Hopping will get strong support, too) Frank is worth the support. Who could have speculated Frank would be a value bet at this point? We did, of course, feeling Marion would peak at the best time, as he did. As for Marion, he has a reputation to win or be off the board and the later could be the case for him at Pocono. Look for the longer shots, as we mentioned in the scenario of closers, to partner with Frank for juicy exotics.


The $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine for soph-colt pacers has the division’s top performers together for the first time in a while. Racing Hill returns, Betting Line returns, Control The Moment returns. None of the three Burke boys have beaten Betting Line and Control The Moment lost to Betting Line with the excuse of a tough trip. But the trio has not met in all of the other stakes for sophs, which displayed the mastery of Control The Moment.

Betting Line drew post 1 and “Control” got post 8. Racing Hill leaves from post 3. The crowd will undoubtedly shower “Line” with money from the wood. “Hill” could ruin Line’s trip, which could also be challenged on the front by Check Six and Another Daily Copy. All of this makes Control look better and better, which is hard to do since he is, ultimately, the best three-year-old of the batch. Unless he is plagued with traffic, Control will take control when it matters most and win this one. It’s good that so many people would argue Control is not better than Line; it will help deliver what could be the most valuable wager of the program.

A great exacta would put Takter’s Western Fame in second at a huge price. This colt has been getting better and was an honest exotic contributor in a conditioner on Hambo day after a good qualifier followed his poor Adios performance.


Charlottetown Driving Park’s signature race, the Gold Cup & Saucer, an open pace, is the feature at the track on Aug. 20’s program. The two trials winners, YS Lotus and Go Daddy Go will be the choices at very low prices in the field of eight.

The mystery here is the presence of Foiled Again, who just made the final. His mile against YS Lotus was miserable. But was that just one of Foiled Again’s unexplained dull efforts, as he has shown throughout his long career, only to come back and pay double digits against far better than fields such as this? Or is it time for the pasture?

In that trial, Shades Of Bay was the true threat. But he gets post 8 in the final and unless there is a burnout duel, how will he win? In trial two, Limelight Beach (a Little Brown Jug champ from our files) was hot on Go Daddy Go’s trail at the wire and may have beaten him it he challenged earlier.

There is too much speed and these drivers won’t get tactical. Expect a fast-leaving Foiled Again that will set up a duel and maybe some shuffling with YS Lotus and “Daddy” and maybe even Limelight Beach. Expect a strong second tier and a set-up for a ground saving closer—Paparazzi Hanover and Shades Of Bay. That is the best-laid plan for making some money in this feature.


Mohawk hosts two-year-old pacers in the lucrative Eternal Camnation (fillies) and Nassagaweya (colts) stakes as the Grand Circuit returns north on Aug. 20.

In the first Eternal Camnation split it’s hard to deny Windy Sport, as her sire, Sportswriter, is once again dominating the green groups. In the second split, Loreenas Ruffian may go off at a very good price, considering few are aware of how well her sire, McArdle, is doing with this division and she is the sole progeny of that sire in this field.

In the first Nassagaway, the lone Sportswriter colt, Manceiver, has the bloodline edge in the field, while the second set should be an edge for the lone Somebeachsomewhere son, Macs Jackpot. 

 H2W Legend

Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last) time because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “ae” signals the horse is entered on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.


8/20/16, Pine Bush Joe R1; Takeyourbreathaway R3

8/19/16, They Call Me Rosie R1; Pocket Novel R2; Exclusive R3; Triple Action R6; P L Impressive R7
8/20/16, Never Say Sorry R5; Hale Street R6; +Mozelle Hanover R8; Bossy R9; Lil Bit O Jingle R10

8/18/16, Shackles N Chains R3; Kenny The Swinger R5; Sand Shocker R7

8/18/16, Trigger R3

8/19/16, +Haughty R4

8/19/16, Unicum B R8; Whistys Paradise R9; Artistic Madison R9; Katies Beach R11
8/20/16, Mr Carrots R1; Our Jerry Lee N R4; Bringhome Theblue R6

8/18/16, +Omaha Survivor R8
8/22/16, Dante R8; The Royal Harry R11

8/22/16, +Hare Craft R9

8/18/16, +Samba Gal R2

8/21/16, +Kounty Blues R10

8/18/16, Muscolo R7; Yanks Ball Girl R9; +Steed ae R14

8/18/16, +Silvio Dante R1; +Best Escape Route R8; Pembroke Delux R10
8/20/16, +Steed R11
8/21/16, +McCedes R6; Uncle Hanover R13

Red Mile
8/18/16, +Veto Hanover R9

Running Aces
8/20/16, +Trot Fudge Sunday R2; +Lo Rail Crossing R6; Freedom Reigns R7

8/18/16, Catchofthecentury R8

8/20/16, +Whirlwind R2

8/19/16, Gray N Cloudy R2; +Cashco R11
8/20/16, Carlos Mittanna R10

8/18/16, +Looney Dunes R9
8/19/16, Fleetwood Hall R5; +Pier Ho Exotic R9

8/18/16, Joes Bid R4
8/20/16, Melodys Monet R7
8/22/16, +Keystone Paula R6

Ray Cotolo contributes to this blog